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Ohio Vax-a-Million lottery now requires you to register for prizes

ODH Director pushes back against talk of lottery being illegal or immoral.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you are vaccinated and want a chance to win $1 million from the state, you will now need to register to be entered into the drawing.

Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud and Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald answered questions Monday about the Ohio Vax-a-Million program. Gov. Mike DeWine announced a lottery last week for vaccinated Ohioans to win $1 million, and for students to win a full scholarship to any state university.

RELATED: Vax-A-Million seen as unorthodox, but legal way to promote vaccines in Ohio

Vaccinated Ohioans will need to opt into the lottery online or over the phone. You can enter starting Tuesday at ohiovaxamillion.com.

You can also enter by calling 1-833-4-ASKODH.

"This is a very exciting time in Ohio," McDonald said. "This is a bold initiative. We want to turn the tide on COVID."

McCloud said the opt-in process was introduced not because of any legal issues, but to allow ODH to quickly verify if a winner is eligible. Entering the drawing gives ODH permission to view your vaccination records.

There will be five drawings for $1 million prizes. Drawings will occur once a week starting May 24.

RELATED: Gov. Mike DeWine announces details on million-dollar COVID-19 vaccine drawings

Winners will be announced on Wednesdays starting May 26 at approximately 7:29 p.m. during the Ohio Lottery Pick 3, 4 and 5 drawings. 

The 48-hour gap between the actual drawing and announcement of the winner is to allow for verification. Several alternates will be selected in case of fraudulent entries.

The database will be monitored and duplicate entries will be removed. 

"We have the security and protocol in place to guard against hacking," McDonald said. "We think we're robust enough to ensure we have the capacity for up to 10 million entries. We're very confident in our security."

Watch the full news conference:

$1 million winners must be a permanent Ohio resident, be 18 years old or older, and have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Scholarship winners must be permanent residents, 12-17 years old, and have received at least one shot. 

If you received your vaccine in another state but still maintain permanent resident status in Ohio, you are eligible.

Many lawmakers, including several Republicans, have criticized the idea, and some have questioned its legality. McCloud said it is legal and pushed back against the idea of the lottery being a bribe.

"We are required to use the money to respond to COVID-19 and encourage [getting the] vaccine," McDonald said. "Do you want to spend $5 million on additional billboards or commercials? This has generated national attention, social media is blowing up. So this is doing exactly what it was intended to do."

McDonald said last Friday saw the highest number of vaccine doses administered since April 23.

Prize winners cannot remain anonymous. The $1 million prizes will be paid out in a lump sum and winners will be required to fill out an IRS 1099 tax form.